Sunchild School students are pulling on football jerseys for the first time in the school’s 16-year history — possibly a Canadian first as well.
“To our knowledge, we think we’re the only First Nation school doing football,” said Sunchild School principal Susan Collicutt on Wednesday.
Sunchild Bison joined the Alberta Six Man Football League this season to compete in the Hunter South Division against Edson, Jasper, Hinton and Drayton Valley.
About 18 to 24 students in Grades 8 to 12 at Sunchild, about 65 km northwest of Rocky Mountain House, are expected to join the Bison football team, including one girl.
“The kids are very excited about it. Ever since I started 15 years ago, the kids have always talked about wanting a football team,” said Collicutt, the school’s former physical education teacher.
But running a team with the usual 12 players on the field was impossible for the small school, she said.
Everything came together when a teacher who knew about the six-player league joined the school last year, and ConocoPhillips signed up as the sponsor.
The Bison’s first game is at Frank Maddock High School in Drayton Valley against the Warriors on Sept. 13 at 4 p.m. The Bison’s first home game against Hinton Wolfpack is on Oct. 4 at 4 p.m.
Grade 12 student Chontay Daychief, a running back for the Bison, said he never imagined he’d be on a football team.
And now the team’s first game is just days away.
“I’ll be nervous and excited at the same time. It should be good,” Daychief said.
Collicutt said Sunchild School basketball and volleyball teams have competed for years.
The new football program is another opportunity for students to get involved in sports and build community spirit.
The Bison and the Caroline Cougars will play in a controlled scrimmage at Caroline School on Friday at 4 p.m.
For more information on the Sunchild Bison, visit www.sunchildschool.com.